Legalizing gay marriage in D.C. in 2009 would have boosted the local economy $52 million over the course of three years, according to a Williams Institute estimate.
Christopher Ramos, research associate at the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law that focuses on sexual orientation law, explained the number of dollars generated in the economy would be lower now, but the D.C. economy would still receive a boost.
“We estimated about $52 million over three years, and about $5.5 million in revenue in local government tax fees,” Ramos said. “Both of those numbers will be less now since the legal landscape of marriage has changed in our country. Those couples that would have gone to D.C. now have other options.”
The D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer expects the boost to be between $4.5 and $22 million, according to the DC Agenda, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender news Web site.
Tonei Glavinic, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, volunteers at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality and Trans Youth Family Allies, and she works closely with the National Center for Lesbian Rights. He thinks that the boost in the D.C. economy will most greatly benefit those in the wedding industry, he said.
“There’s an increase in the number of people who can get married, so there will be an economic impact because people spend a lot of money on weddings — everything from event planners, space reservations, florists, bakeries, photographers, invitations,” Glavinic said. “When people get married they will often spend tens of thousands of dollars on their wedding.”
However, Ramos explained the Williams Institute study did not factor in the multiplier effect, which would boost other local industries as the money spent is then spent again by the companies hired for weddings.
There are 3,678 same-sex unmarried partners living in the same household, according to the 2000 census. Based on estimates from numbers in other states that have legalized gay marriage, such as Massachusetts, half of these couples are expected to marry, according to the Williams Institute.
In addition, slightly less than 12,550 out-of-state couples are expected to travel to D.C. to get married in the next three years, according to Ramos.
Economics Professor Daniel Lin said while he expects the marriage industry to grow, investments in a new home and furnishings for that home, as is sometimes seen when couples get married, will remain fairly stable.
“I expect there would be more money spent on wedding ceremonies, but because you don’t have to be married to live together, I would think all the spending you see from living together wouldn’t change,” Lin said.